We retrospectively examined the prevalence and natural history of asymptomatic lumbar canal stenosis in patients treated surgically for cervical compressive myelopathy in order to assess the influence of latent lumbar canal stenosis on the recovery after surgery. Of 214 patients who had undergone cervical laminoplasty for cervical myelopathy, we identified 69 (32%) with myelographically documented lumbar canal stenosis. Of these, 28 (13%) patients with symptomatic lumbar canal stenosis underwent simultaneous cervical and lumbar decompression. Of the remaining 41 (19%) patients with asymptomatic lumbar canal stenosis who underwent only cervical surgery, 39 were followed up for ≥ 1 year (mean 4.9 years (1 to 12)) and were included in the analysis (study group). Patients without myelographic evidence of lumbar canal stenosis, who had been followed up for ≥ 1 year after the cervical surgery, served as controls (135 patients; mean follow-up period 6.5 years (1 to 17)). Among the 39 patients with asymptomatic lumbar canal stenosis, seven had lumbar-related leg symptoms after the cervical surgery.
Kaplan–Meier analysis showed that 89.6% (95% confidence interval (CI) 75.3 to 96.0) and 76.7% (95% CI 53.7 to 90.3) of the patients with asymptomatic lumbar canal stenosis were free from leg symptoms for three and five years, respectively. There were no significant differences between the study and control groups in the recovery rate measured by the Japanese Orthopaedic Association score or improvement in the Nurick score at one year after surgery or at the final follow-up.
These results suggest that latent lumbar canal stenosis does not influence recovery following surgery for cervical myelopathy; moreover, prophylactic lumbar decompression does not appear to be warranted as a routine procedure for coexistent asymptomatic lumbar canal stenosis in patients with cervical myelopathy, when planning cervical surgery.
- Lumbar canal stenosis
- Cervical compressive myelopathy
- Tandem spinal stenosis
- Natural course
- Asymptomatic patient
- Cervical surgery
No benefits in any form have been received or will be received from a commercial party related directly or indirectly to the subject of this article.
Supplementary material. A table giving details of the seven patients with lumbar canal stenosis-related leg symptoms following the cervical surgery is available with the electronic version of this article on our website www.jbjs.org.uk
- Received July 18, 2011.
- Accepted November 29, 2011.
- ©2012 British Editorial Society of Bone and Joint Surgery